East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Jen Stays Home, Most Recent Travel, Virginia

The Virginia Living Museum, May 2021

Indoor Animal Exhibits

The bulk of The Living Museum’s collection is made of of live animals (hence the name), highlighting the animals that live in Virginia (and its coast and waterways). Galleries are divided into ocean, nocturnal, western piedmont, and underground habitats. The exhibits all connect to atriums that each have a canopy walkaway and aquarium path underneath.

The highlight of every visit for our family is the touch tank, where docents give children the opportunity to learn about and to touch crabs and other aquatic animals. The indoor beehive (while not open during our most recent visit) usually takes a lot of our time, as we scour the glass display case looking for the queen.

I don’t know what this is, but if if swims up next to me in the ocean I will freak out.

Jurassic Giants Now-September 6, 2021

Jurassic Giants is a popular traveling exhibition. The dinosaurs are animatronic and extremely lifelike. The “giants” can be found both outdoors in the native plant gardens, and inside in the temporary exhibition space. Jurassic Giants will be at VLM until September 6, 2021.

Jurassic Giants, The Virginia Living Museum, Open June-September 6 2021

Outdoor Exhibits & Play Areas

It’s hard to limit a visit to The Living Museum to less than three hours for our family, in part due to the interactive play areas. The Children’s Garden includes sensory plants, a Hobbit Shire “architecturally-styled” playhouse, and a climbing web. The Dinosaur dig area is set up as an archeological excavation site, with sections to build structures and search for fossils. Dinosaur sculptures (although not to scale) with interpretation surround the site. “But there weren’t any dinosaurs in Virginia!” you say. To connect the “dig” to the VLM mission, inside one of the educational “outposts” is an exhibit with whale and other fossils from the Virginia coastal plain.

A loop on the wooden boardwalk path first takes you by the river otters and beavers. The netted aviary is home to injured and rescued birds, including pelicans, herons, ducks and other freshwater and seabirds. The remainder of the boardwalk includes Virginia native animals. Many were rescued, and the VLM Blog helps you get to know each one’s story.

Dinosaur Discovery Trail, The Virginia Living Museum
Aviary, The Virginia Living Museum

Let me help plan your trip to Hampton Roads, Virginia.


Newport News

While many people associate the city with just HII Newport News Shipyard or Christopher Newport University, there are many cultural and outdoor attractions to be found! Learn about animals at The Living Museum, go hiking at Newport News Park, and learn about seafaring at The Mariners’ Museum and Park.



Just across the bay from (by bridge and tunnel, or boat if you are lucky) is Hampton. Relax at Fort Monroe or Buckroe beaches, get your STEM fill at the Virginia Air & Space Science Center, and make farm friends at Bluebird Gap Farm.



A few bucks will get you a ferry ride across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk to Portsmouth. There, you’ll find activities for all ages, including the interactive exhibits of the Children’s Museum of Virginia, concerts at the Atlantic Bank Union Pavilion, and movies at the historic Commodore Theatre.



YThe town of Smithfield is the perfect escape from the busy Hampton Roads cities. Shop for antiques downtown, explore the marshy boardwalk at Windsor Castle Park, or head just out of town to Chippokes Plantation State Park.

Bonus video of the fish swimming the metaphorical upstream battle that we all face.

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